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In a bid to save motorists valuable time and money, it has been proposed that utility companies will be expected to ‘rent’ stretches of road where they intend to work. The scheme has been set up to encourage companies to complete projects as quickly as possible.
The new scheme is the Government’s latest attempt to tackle a problem which has caused frustration to millions of drivers for the past few decades. Road works are seen as one of the biggest causes of urban gridlock and these types of hold-up have become increasingly difficult for motorists to stomach in the past few years.
The latest official figures reveal that delays caused by road works are costing the country around £4 billion per year, which has forced the Department for Transport to finally take some action. The department intends to run three pilots of a ‘lane rental scheme’ later on this year, with one scheme targeted at a large city and two at smaller towns. The idea is that eventually the scheme can be implemented by local authorities across the UK.
At present, utility companies which lay internet or electricity cable or install new pipes for gas and water are legally obliged to warn councils of any such schemes, and could face fines if their work overruns.
The introduction of the lane rental scheme intends to go a step further and provide an incentive for utility companies to complete work as soon as possible in an attempt to cause as little inconvenience to motorists as possible. For example, charges would be set at their highest for cases where the road needs to be dug up during the height of rush hour, with a maximum daily rental of £2,500.
In non-residential areas, utility companies will be encouraged to carry work out during the night time which will hopefully further minimise delays faced by motorists.
The scheme has received backing from the AA who commented: “Motorists have for too long stuck in traffic jams because of utility companies working at their convenience and not the road users.
“Bringing discipline into play, especially backed by financial penalties, may bring a measure of order to our roads.”